Sisi at presidential palace - Youm7 Archive Sisi at presidential palace - Youm7 Archive

US aid, Brotherhood priority for Sisi, Trump talks

Sat, Apr. 1, 2017
CAIRO - 1 April 2017: U.S. President Donald Trump will meet his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fatah al-Sisi Monday to discuss topics of mutual concern, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, U.S. financial aid, and “maybe” the case of imprisoned Egyptian-American Aya Hegazi, an unnamed senior administration official said in

a press briefing Friday

.

Trump will listen to Sisi’s views on the Muslim Brotherhood issue, the official said, adding, “Obviously that is one that has received a lot of attention. We, along with a number of countries, have some concerns about various activities that the Muslim Brotherhood has conducted in the region. But that's going to be a discussion that will unfold between us and Egypt.”

On Feb. 7, New York Times

reported

that Trump’s administration is considering designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, adding that some critics say the administration could “create a legal justification” to crack down the group’s mosques and charities and to freeze their assets in the US.

The brotherhood was designated a terrorist group by Egypt’s former interim government in December 2013 after removing Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi from power in July 2013. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates followed suit, putting the Brotherhood on their list of the terrorist entities in 2014.

In response on a question of whether President Sisi will bring a list of Egyptians he would like the Trump administration to extradite to Egypt, the official said, “If that is conveyed, we can talk with the Egyptians about it. But we’re not aware of any request coming.”

Concerning U.S. aid to Egypt, the official said Trump’s administration “wants to fully support the needs and requirements, and sustain the relationship in a very effective way.” The U.S. State Department has stated that the foreign aid would be slashed in the defense budget, which raises concerns the cuts could affect aid to Egypt.

“The discussions about the details of the budget process and how that’s going to be allocated with the input from the Department of State is still an ongoing process,” the official clarified.

The U.S. gives Egypt an annual $1.3 billion military aid package; however, it was partially suspended in August 2013 following the dispersal of pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda squares on August 14, 2013. In April 2014, the United States lifted the suspension by delivering 10 helicopters.

As for Egypt’s human rights record, the senior administration official said Trump’s administration handles such “sensitive” issues in a private and “more discreet” way.

The official noted that the administration will address the case of American-Egyptian citizen Aya Hegazi, who was detained with her husband and others in May 2014 for running the Belady Foundation, an NGO dedicated to rescuing abandoned and homeless children. They face numerous charges, including sexually abusing the children and paying them to participate in anti-government protests.

“The protection of U.S. citizens in Egypt and around the world is one of the highest priorities for the President and for the administration. We are going to address this with Egypt in a way that we think maximizes the chances her case will be resolved in a satisfactory manner,” the official said.

“These are issues that are important. Human rights has been an area we've talked about with Egypt for a number of years, and we will figure out the best way to discuss that, to handle that,” the official continued.

Some U.S. media outlets have suggested that Trump will put strengthening U.S.-Egyptian relations ahead of any other concerns.

President Sisi will leave Cairo Saturday for his first state visit to Washington D.C. since Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States on January 20, according to a Friday statement by the president’s office.

During the visit, which comes per an invitation from President Trump, both leaders will talk counter-terrorism efforts and ongoing conflicts of the Middle East, the statement added.

Prior to talks with the U.S. President, Sisi is expected to hold a number of meetings with senior officials including Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence in addition to members of Congress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Sisi’s visit to Washington marks the first state visit by an Egyptian president to Washington since former President Hosni Mubarak’s visit in August 2009.

President Sisi will land in New York City before heading to Washington, according to the presidential office. Sisi has visited New York City twice over the past three years to attend meetings of the United Nations General Assembly.
 
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